Russian Report Blames Polish Pilots In Crash That Killed President
The report by Russian investigators says the pilots ignored bad weather warnings in an attempt to please officials onboard including President Lech Kaczynski.
The Tu-154 plane crashed on April 10 in Smolensk, in western Russia, killing all onboard. The plane had been taking dignitaries to a memorial ceremony for Poles massacred by Stalin's secret police during World War II.
The head of Russia's investigative aviation body, Tatiana Anodina, said the plane was in good technical condition when it left Warsaw, Poland, and experienced no engine or system failures inflight.
She says the pilots were warned by air traffic controllers at Somolensk's Severny Airport that weather conditions were unfavorable due to heavy fog, but decided to land anyway.
"The crew descended at twice the appropriate speed," the committee head said.
The presence in the cockpit of a Polish air force commander who had been drinking was a factor in the decision to take "unjustified risk," officials found. Anodina added that Kaczynski himself likely also influenced the pilots' decision to land rather than head to an alternative airport.
"The main passenger's expected negative reaction... placed psychological pressure on crew members and influenced the decision to continue the landing," Anodina said.
"Publishing even the most bitter truth about the catastrophe is our responsibility to the victims," she said.
Meanwhile, Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw, condemned the Russian report as a "mockery against Poland."